Elusive elopements are a global affair

Chateau de la Chevre d'Or in the hilltop village of Eze, France. Photo provided by Relais & Chateaux

When Eddy Murphy said “the honeymoon was a joke” after his brief (14-day) encounter with marriage, he decided to call it off. Don’t blame the honeymoon. Murphy and bride Tracy Edmonds tied the knot on a lush private island in Tahiti. But not even that moonlight magic guaranteed wedded bliss. Apparently the wedding party was too demanding and what was to be an “elusive” wedding setting was becoming a gloomy commercialized venture and too much for the groom to laugh about.

But happier couples such as bride Rianna Riego and her groom, Jeff Zamensky of Bermuda Dunes, Calif., fared far better. They planned an elusive elopement for two. They agreed the AAA Five Diamond- rated Four Seasons Biltmore in Santa Barbara reflected the place for a dream wedding and they planned the entire event in less than a week. It went off without a hitch. Even Indy, their golden retriever was comforted by the resort’s “Pampered Pet” program with toiletries and treats. You can see from his serious, yet noble pose as the only canine in the wedding party that he took his role seriously.

Unlike Murphy’s rather neurotic nuptials, Riego said, “The best part of this wedding was that it was all about us. I felt I was really getting married this time. Last time I felt I was taking care of everyone else but me!”

Credit the Four Seasons Resort for rising to the occasion with its predictable panache. They don’t miss any details, such as the seductive wedding cake abundant with spun sugar white roses, so real they looked just picked from the garden. Riego said she chose the photographer and the minister. “I did that part online an and looked at all my options. The Four Seasons coordinated the details and didn’t skip a beat.”

While the nearby San Ysidro Ranch insisted upon adding a $750 “service fee” to the ceremony, the Four Seasons did not, which was a deciding factor for the couple. After all, this was an ultra private wedding for two, not 20.

Here are a half-dozen ultra private wedding settings recommendations from Relais & Chateaux Romantic Escapes:

Triple Creek Ranch, Darby, Mont.: An intimate setting spreading over 600 acres in the heart of the Montana Rockies. After the ceremony there is horseback riding and a “sense-enhancing” couples’ massage in an elegant private cabin. Add to this a private hot tub and your wedding dinner, courtesy of room service.

Planters Inn, Charleston, S.C.: Is a “Gone With the Wind” wedding in your dreams? The Charleston Room and Garden Room open into a lovely garden courtyard surrounding the hotel. Take a carriage ride around this historic city before dinner in the Peninsula Grill, where low country specialties take you back to an era devoid of fusion cuisine and high-tech hospitality.

€ Blantyre in the Berkshire Hills of Lenox, Mass: This bed and breakfast inn will take you back to the age of innocence. The castle (24 rooms) was built in 1902 as a Scottish Manor House. Couples work directly with the general manager and the executive chef and dining room manager to make the magic happen. There is a private dining room for two in front of a roaring fireplace to consider.

€ Elounda Mare Hotel in Crete, Greece treasures its private chapel; ask about what they mean when they promise “special surprises for honeymooners.” For couples who dream of Mediterranean magic, there is sailing, canoeing and waterskiing.

€ Chateau de la Chevre d’Or in the hilltop village of Eze, France (near Monaco, Nice and Cannes) perched between the Mediterranean and the mountains: Reserve the one-bedroom suite sprawling over two floors. They offer a candlelight dinner setting that will be etched in your memory.

€ The Aerie in Malahat, British Columbia, Canada is like a slice of Austria’s lake district. Honeymooners are met with a bottle of Pommery Champagne and flowers. And that newlywed tradition, breakfast in bed, is on the menu.

€ A sky-high wedding: Mark Smookler got high at his wedding, in the geographical sense, as he and his wife planned a ceremony in Machu Picchu in the Andes. Abercrombie & Kent can arrange details from arranging a native speaking shaman to performing a traditional blessing ceremony on the terrace of Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge, all to the sounds of live Andean music.

Contact information:

Four Seasons Resort Biltmore Santa Barbara: 805.969.2261; www.fourseasons.com

Relais & Chateaux Romantic Escapes: 800.735.2478; www.relaischateaux.com

Abercrombie & Kent: 800.554.7094; www.abercrombiekent.com